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Heritage How-to: Write your own Tales of the Valiant RPG heritages!

Heritage How-to: Write your own Tales of the Valiant RPG heritages!

A concept introduced in the Tales of the Valiant RPG splits what used to be “race” into component parts, lineage and heritage. Lineage is what kind of being you are: an elf, a dwarf, a gnome. Heritage is your culture and learned traits gained during formative years: forest idyll, underground city, traveling merchant band.

Some heritages are strongly associated with classical elements of a lineage, but there’s no reason why your character can’t have been raised in a nonstandard environment. A dwarf can come from an arboreal, singsong life.

If you’re making your own homebrew game, you’re probably using the standard lineages. And most fantasy games assume the same medieval/renaissance world that makes most of the backgrounds pretty relevant. Heritages however, offer a worldbuilding opportunity.

The Player’s Guide has several broadly applicable heritages you can use straight out of the book. But your campaign’s heritages don’t need to be one-size-fits-all. Heritages are a place where you can tailor the Tales of the Valiant experience to your campaign.

When you set out to write heritages for your own world, it might be helpful to have a template for what goes there and the kinds of things that fit.

Heritage Template

Check out these tips and ideas to help you get your campaign-specific heritage down solidly. Use heritages in the Player’s Guide for comparison to get a feel for an appropriate power level.

Heritage Name

When you name a heritage, think about specifics of your campaign that communicate what your setting is about. Names are a good way to give players setting nuance without making them read your 10-page historical treatise.

Many cultures define themselves by their environment, so you might think of descriptive words for the climate or landscape to help name your own heritage. “Tundrafolk” says a lot about a heritage right out of the chute. Another fine choice is to lean into your setting’s proper nouns. If your campaign has a nation called Vorn, then “Vornish” or “Vornlander” can be meaningful and evocative.

Heritage Description

This should be about 200 words of descriptive text. Maybe less, if you get done early. Write in third person, almost like a wikipedia entry. In broad terms, and as appropriate, cover origin, history, culture, form of government, religion, allies and enemies, and distinguishing characteristics of the heritage. That’s a lot to cram in, and you’re probably not going to get it all, so as you write, ask yourself: What is these people’s main thing? Make sure that main thing comes across.


A heritage provides a small number of in-game benefits to PCs that take it. The traits are the mechanical expression of the main thing you laid down in the description. Create as many as you think covers that, but try not to go over 3 unless they’re all pretty weak.

Among the traits, it’s a good idea to include 1 or 2 skill proficiencies and a tool proficiency as the kinds of things a community teaches to its members. Note that fantastical abilities are fine if they could be learned in some way. Other things that make good heritage traits are powers based on common behaviors, armor or weapon proficiencies, and learned magical abilities, such as the ability to cast a specific spell.


Every heritage allows a PC to know Common and one additional language of your choice; this is the primary way you get languages into a character. For the additional language, offer a typical option so players know the baseline, but let them choose whatever they like. You can change this to two languages or play around with this trait as you see fit if linguistics is a particular strength of the heritage or if the heritage feels weak in comparison to other heritages.

Example Heritage: Steppelander

Here’s a heritage I created for my home campaign. You can see where I cribbed from the Player’s Guide in places!


You hail from the steppes to the north and west of the Rainbowlands. Mostly nomadic, steppelanders travel the plains following game and scavenging from their finds. Steppelanders have been roaming the steppes longer than the Rainbow Order has existed, and steppelanders feel a cultural superiority for their long legacy. This doesn’t stop them from raiding into the the cities during the cold months, of course.

Many steppelanders are gnolls, but since the advent of the Rainbow Order, people of other lineages have trickled out into the plains and joined them. Steppelanders are proud, but not too proud to turn away another deft hand at hunting and herding.

Steppelanders are great improvisers, making do with whatever they find to accomplish a hardy survival. They tend to travel light, so they turn whatever they come across into whatever they need.

Remaker. You can make Tiny nonmagical items using materials from your surroundings. An item takes 1 minute to create and can be anything of 25 gp value or less from the Adventuring Gear table. When done, it must sit or float on a surface within 5 feet of you. The item is obviously kitbashed, and resale value is negligible. After one use of no more than 1 hour in duration, the item becomes nonfunctional.

On Your Feet. You have advantage on checks or saves made to resist debilitating weather effects, such as those caused by extreme heat or cold. In addition, when you finish a short rest, you can reduce your exhaustion level by one. Once used, you can’t reduce your exhaustion level in this way again until you finish a long rest.

Traveler. You have proficiency in the Survival and Animal Handling skills.

Languages. You know Common and one additional language of your choice. Typical people of this heritage choose Gnoll.

about Jeff Quick

Jeff is Senior Editor at Kobold Press and he runs the blog. He was most recently lead editor for the Tales of the Valiant Player’s Guide.
He has his own entry in Wookieepedia.

4 thoughts on “Heritage How-to: Write your own Tales of the Valiant RPG heritages!”

  1. Matthew Emerick

    I’d love to see a small booklet on design guidelines for ToV. I have a lot of ideas but want to make sure they fit well into the game.

  2. To echo: a series of similar articles about homebrewing everything, from player options to spells to magic items for ToV would be awesome!

    This is great stuff.

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